Monday, September 29, 2008

El Toro

Yesterday I got to ride what I have now ranked on my top 3 coasters
I've ever ridden. This wooden coaster, located at Six Flags Great
Adventure in New Jersey, takes more turns and risks than many steel coasters and is far more frightening than anything except maybe Kingda Ka, located right near it in the park. I tend to underestimate wooden coasters, as do many people nowadays. But don't doubt this beast - by the end I was begging to be on a real bull instead of in my seat aboard El Toro.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Drexel Free Stuff

All college students love free stuff. Especially me. Many of my friends and associates often ask me where and how I manage to get so much free stuff and why I'm quite obsessed with it, so I decided to start a GCal for all the free stuff that's going to be around Drexel University and to some extent, the rest of Philadelphia as well. The link is below - you can subscribe to it using Google Calendar as it's public. If you use some other format, that's also compatible with iCal. The XML feed is also up for those who want to subscribe via RSS. I'll try to update this as often as possible, but its going to take me some time to add in all the stuff that's flowing our way this week! Also, it's not complete as it will be filtered to what is most relevant... free pizza is plentiful, but I try to hit the cool stuff like water ice, cheap Ross Commons food, etc. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sarah Palin Email Leak Spur Jokes

I was just on Gawker and the comments regarding Sarah Palin's Y! Mail leak are pretty hilarious, so I compiled them:

Internet: bridge to nowhere
Their in-home network = Alaskan Pipeline.
Their computer crash was the Exxon Valdez oil spill
Oregon Trail game = the Palin's driveway
MP3: the seal's mating call
Spyware = Siberian who got lost somewhere outside of Nome.
Antivirus software = rifle
Heated igloo=computer lab
Computer mouse = actual walrus
Keyboard = eskimo's ribcage.
Mouse=a real Arctic mouse
Power cord = Aleutian Island chain
Computer screensaver: aurora borealis
Printer = Aleut calligrapher
Cursor = Blinking Eskimo
Hard drive = small chamber deep in the base of Mt. McKinley

Seriously, who uses Yahoo of all things for work email? Some serious obstruction of justice questions are being raised...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Next Gen Apps

Now we're starting to see some really cool apps and fewer "me too" types... such as those who joined in the deluge of Yelp-driven restaurant reviews and tip calculators.

Simplify Media: wirelessly access your whole iTunes library and playlists. Personally I think this should be built in, along with the Artist info and Lyrics capabilities. No longer is the tradeoff between cool device (iPhone/Touch) and having all your music (Classic) needed. You can keep as much as you want on your smaller capacity device and just stream the rest of them from your computer. Yes. This quite simply a media sever, but the best part is how easy it is to set up and quietly it runs on your computer, in terms of memory usage. It's great for singing along to your music without having to go to a lyrics site, search, and open up the song you want too. I keep it right next to the Remote app, first page.

AirSharing: I'm still trying to work with this one, since they haven't built Vista 64 bit support yet. Vista support is getting much better though with the upcoming 1.0.1 release. Updates later, but in short it lets you use your Touch or iPhone as a wireless USB drive. You mount it on your computer and you can transfer files back and forth and open up any of the recognizable formats (documents, presentations, spreadsheets, PDF) on the go, offline. Of course you can put other files on it as well, but not for viewing. I find myself using it for the openable formats, but not for others (since I carry a 2GB flash drive with me on my keys). 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Elevator Vs expressway culture

Sent via iPod Touch

Prebiotic Synthesis

Since taking Evolution (BIO 460) during the spring quarter, I have become especially interested in the field of prebiotic synthesis - the field that tries to find what biochemical reactions preceded the earliest life forms (and thus further proving to Sarah Palin and gang that we didn't just show up 6000 years ago). In an article published in Science, Barta argues that the reaction barrier to a condensation reaction to link amino acids as opposed to a acid-base reaction (since AA's are amphoteric in nature). The mechanism of the reaction is pretty interesting, check it out!

Aston Martins

Lately, I've been seeing a lot of Aston Martins. At first, I thought it was due to the release of the lower-end V8 Vantage (if you call $120,000+ low-end). However, it seeems that people are picking up a ton of DB7s. Maybe in anticipation of the new Bond movie, Quantum of Solace? There's seemingly no trend going on that I can latch on to.. I've seen convertibles, hard-tops, DB7's, Vanquishes, and Vantages. Whatever it may be, it makes me very gleeful. Keep it up rich folk.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mashing RSS Feeds

I've never really needed to do much with RSS feeds besides read a few news sources and blogs easily. However, today I came across the need to mashup several sources and then filter them - a search on multiple RSS feeds, based on the content of each. I went through a few barebones web services, and then I came across Yahoo Pipes - I was floored. The interface is quite amazing - aesthetically pleasing and easy to use but amazingly powerful and versatile. You can filter based on a million things from the title, description, density, length, and more, and easily put together all your search criteria in a visual format and then publish it. Even nicer, you don't have to keep using Yahoo! anymore - you can use whatever RSS tool you'd like and just subscribe to the single feed. My weapon of choice is NewsNetWire for my iPod Touch. Way to go guys!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Balance Billing

There's been a lot of talk lately about the practice of balance billing, especially in California. Balance billing occurs when a doctor charges more for a service than an insurance company is willing to pay, and thus the doctor charges the patient (illegally) for the balance. While I certainly believe that the practice is unethical if it is prohibited and patients don't know any better, is it really that unfair? Doctors put a lot of work into doctoring... shouldn't they be properly compensated? Should they really be just barely covering the costs because people buy small insurance coverages or because Medicare/HMOs are too stingy? In the case of a patient in need of emergency care that the insurer wouldn't cover, balance billing is unethical. Agreed. But what about otherwise? Nobody seems to be pissed at their insurance company for this... just at the doctors for being audacious enough for asking for what they charged. It's tantamount to paying a $1 for a $5 loaf of bread and saying that you really needed it, so the store should just give it to you. This never happens with other professionals - could you imagine winning a court case (like having a successful surgery) and not fully paying your attorney what he was due? Dr. Atul Gawande, author of Complications and Better, has made this argument before. Maybe going into the profession I'm sort of biased toward protecting doctors from the flak they get these days, but at the very least the blame should be shared with short-changing insurance providers?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


MobileMe without the hassle or stolen $100/year! Nuevasync is still in beta, but it provides Exchange-based over the air sync to your iPod Touch/iPhone/other web-enabled device (they focus on Nokia smartphones). It's easy to set up and for a relatively small company, they're doing a good job. They are very nice about posting on their blog when servers are down for maintenance/bugs etc., but since it's happening somewhat often (once a week or so), I'd recommend adding them to your RSS feed so you know when not to completely rely on it. They're still working on getting GMail running through Exchange, but for now I have an over-the -air sync for Google Calendar and Contacts. The only downside is I thought I could sync back into Outlook when I sync my iPod but it [the iPod] won't do both over-the-air and Outlook sync. 'sall good! I have free OTA syncing and it works great!

Google Chrome is out!

Somehow, Google's most daring product release ever (I think) is getting very little press. Well, besides the NYT and all. I just downloaded Google Chrome, the new browser straight from the doers of no evil. It's impressively fast, and it makes sense why - if you get through their entertaining but verbose 25-page comic. They've built it from the ground up for Web 2.0 and webapps that take full advantage of new features in browsing. While the features on the surface are nothing new, the infrastructure beneath allows this browser to run very fast and be rock solid. IE8 is supposed to be very much like this with the sandbox structure to keep malware from crashing the browser and other such features, but given that this is open source and will certainly have plenty of plugins, I'm looking forward to my next few weeks testing this baby out.


Looks like this summer is going pretty well with the discovery of new music through Pandora when suddenly I run across Songza, an online service that lets me create playlists and listen to any song I want! It seems to be using YouTube (or so I've read). Anyway, I can even listen to the new Metallica single, "The Day that Never Comes" from their upcoming album, Death Magnetic. They have pretty full and complete collections from the artists I've typed in so far, and it seems like a quick and easy way to get a playlist going when you go over to your friends house and want to show them some new music but you forgot your iPod. Furthermore, it works (decently) on my iPod Touch - maybe on other mobile platforms as well. Of course it's not as nice as the Pandora app, but it has more functionality - as a result of fewer deals with record companies and such.